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KURO’s Bianca van Zwieten


in conversation with Babette Grunder


BG: You describe yourself as a ‘hair lover.’ What makes you so passionate about what the dictionary describes as fine, pliable fibres that grow on people's skin?

For me, hair is a material to do various things with. With a beautiful hair dye or hairdo I can make customers feel better and emphasize their personal style. In addition, for me it’s a material to create art with.

BG: Art?

I like making avantgardistic hair styles for shoots. Hair as a form of art, so to speak. It makes the hair become an image. Something to look at.



BG: What’s your first hair memory?

I used to do my mother’s hair. I would use coloured elastic bands to make 20 pigtails. And I cut Barbie’s hair. My mother got furious with me for that. ‘They were 40 guilders and now they’ve got spikes’ she said. It’s funny really. As a young child I was always busy with beauty, without any reference. Like with those pigtails. We had to use our imagination, come up with everything ourselves. The internet has completely changed that. Now there’s tens of thousands of hairdos and styles online.


BG: Cutting Barbies, playing hair salon. Sounds like the classic hair academy story…

Well, it really wasn’t. I actually did not want to go to the hair academy. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. At school I was quickly distracted and I had trouble choosing a direction or profession. After the MAVO I enrolled at the HAVO to put off having to make a choice. Until my mother eventually told me to go do the hair academy. ‘Try it, it’ll be great for you.’ And she was right.



BG: You’re flying to cities like Paris, London, New York, and Tokyo to do huge shows. Sounds like a big thing and it is a big thing. Does it feel like the biggest achievement in the industry for you?


Travelling is not a goal, but it’s necessary because of the type of hair works I create. My signature and aesthetics are a niche. In the Netherlands, there aren’t that many magazines to get published in. If I want to collaborate with magazines, I have to go abroad. It gives me the chance to meet even more inspiring people, like Andrew O’Toole and making new relationships.


BG: Where would you like to be?

In the place I am working toward right now. I love entrepreneurship, my salon and making creative work. But in the end, I want an international agency. So I can catch the attention of the British, Italian or French Vogue. 


BG: You often talk about ‘signature.’ Describe yours…


I use a lot of colour and lots of shapes and contrasts. In addition I work with organic, female forms combined with texture. 

BG: To navigate in the fashion and beauty industry you need a compass and a strong backbone. How do you experience that?


It’s horrible.


BG: Is it still?

No, but the way toward it is. It’s difficult to hold your own if you’re just starting out, still insecure about your work, looking up to others, being extremely nervous. It’s even so difficult that I stopped for a while and only worked in the salon. I thought that perhaps fashion just wasn’t my thing. And yet I started to miss it.


BG: How are you handling that now?


Quite well actually, my mindset changed. You can be talented, but your personality is important too. 


BG: How did you do that?


Among others by speaking with coaches and experts from the industry. I told myself: ‘I will do all jobs as well as possible. I’m 100% behind them, and if they don’t think it’s good enough, well then that’s just too bad.’ I’ve let go of the whole ‘What if they don’t like it’ idea. I know now that there are many interests at stake. If a designer doesn’t book you for the next season, it might be because of a different sponsor for example. I’ve been working in the industry for 12 years now.

BG: How do we recognize the work of Bianca van Zwieten?

There’s always boldness and guts in it. It’s just that little bit different. I cut knots when customers are hesitant. I love edginess, but I don't cut a haircut for the sake of a haircut. It has to be an addition to the person.


BG: Showing guts in the salon sounds difficult…

It doesn’t have to be something drastic. I go for the little things. You can show guts with a certain colour. I often cut models that are scouted. Nowadays they create personalities with individual hairstyles and dyes. If I go two shades darker, then it’s only a small change that’s not immediately noticeable. But it does enhance the skin colour and the eyes. It looks ten times more powerful.

BG: And now, since 2024, there’s KURO (pronounced as Koorow). Why now?


Everything intertwines in KURO. Not only do I pour 15 years of entrepreneurship, art, fashion, salon work and education into one brand, but with KURO we also combine high fashion with sustainability and the spa feeling. Something like that didn’t exist yet. 


So why was there a need for something like KURO?

The industry is changing. You can tell from the customers. Since COVID-19, the salon experience really has changed – in a positive way. It’s no longer like ‘I need a haircut because I have dead ends, or my roots need to be touched up. It’s a gift to yourself now. During the pandemic there were many things we couldn’t do, but we could go to our hairdresser. Wellbeing and health are more important than ever. Many customers now are also asking for hair treatments to improve the health of their hair and scalp. For some, its even a reason to visit the hair salon in the first place.


What is KURO?

The KURO brand is Japanese-inspired. The dedication and craftsmanship they take as standard in that culture inspire my associate Eva and me immensely. They combine art with craftsmanship and that way they can create iconic pieces, with a very high sustainable quality. We do the same with KURO. We combine high fashion with craftsmanship and sustainability. The latter is reflected in the products, but also in our team and in the haircuts. We colour and cut with such an eye for detail and quality that customers can enjoy it for a long time.


BG: You describe the bond between a customer and yourself as a relationship. You can also see that as sustainable.

Yes, exactly. The after care is central with us as well. If someone comes to us with a desire for a certain colour or haircut, then the advice we give regarding the care of that look is just as important. We ask how they would like to maintain their hair and if they are willing to do that. We map out the entire year together. We become their hair professional, not just the person who dyes their hair red.

BG: Who would you like to start a ‘hair relationship’ with? 

Iris van Herpen. I got to work for her a couple of times when she was fresh out of the art academy. Now I would like to start a sustainable relationship with her. If it comes to people, I think of Lindsey Wixson. Her hair is always long and dark blonde. That could be different.


BG: What type of haircut is still on your wish list for yourself?


I’ve actually never been happier with my hair then I am right now. The hair quality is great and the curls fall perfectly. But if I had a magic wand and were a magician, I would turn it evenly grey. My hair actually is completely grey and that’s why I often have to touch up my roots. Luckily, I can do that with a rinse dye and I often only do the top, so it’s not that bad. Still, I will have to stop that at some point. Because I don't want paint on my head every three weeks for the rest of my life. And you can do all sorts of fun things with grey hair.


BG: What’s stopping you?

If you have curls, you have a natural dry hair texture. Then, if you start lightening the hair - which is necessary if you want to go grey - the quality of the hair doesn’t get any better. I’d have to lighten it in many steps. That process takes time, mentally and physically.


BG: What hairstyle are you afraid to cut on yourself? 


The best method to go grey is to let the dye grow out for 3 centimetres and then cut it very short. I think about it often, but I don’t have the guts to do it.


BG: It’s very reassuring that even a hair stylist has this…


I know, right? I even come up with excuses. If I loose 10 kilos first, then… I have customers who tell me ‘I want to have a buzz cut.’ They don’t care. I don’t dare to.


BG: Which hairstyle do you refuse to cut? 

Sometimes customers come to me wanting a haircut because it's a trend. If I don't see that in that person, I explain why and then I don't do it. "What do you want to achieve with it?" I ask them. But if it suits someone’s style and personality, I cut everything.

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